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MUSIC AND THEATRES IN PARIS.
(From Our Oitm Correspondent.)
Paris, April 18th. The lyric.il season here, like a dying Phcenix, is slowly passing away, wliile from its ashes the much more brilliant season of London is emerging. The rival opera houses there are, doubtless, as much a subject of conversation as they are here; and columns of the various theatrical papers are filled with the correspondence from London, relative to the various doings and chit-chat of the drama and opera; while Paris, like a giant refreshed, after a short respite of the last days of Lent, is plunging into a fresh series of balls, dinners, private theatricals. A propos of the latter, a rather sudden check has been given to the fashion of having the artists of the Th<re-Francais, to play in private drawing-rooms those charming little " proverbes" of Octave Fenillet, Alfred de Musset, &c. As it was found to exercise an injurious influence on the interests of the theatre, and also on the acting of the artists, so, by "decree," they are forbidden, for the future, to exercise their talents in a way that,
allowed to be fulfilled, but no others incurred. A plan is talked of by some enterprising company, to remedy, next winter, the deficit this would cause in the winter amusements. They propose engaging, from various theatres, good artists, and keeping them as a troupe to be exclusively devoted to the acting in private drawing-rooms. The theatres, meanwhile, are rather languishing. The performances at the Grand-Opera, of Pierre de Midecie, have been interrupted for a short time, by an indisposition of Mad. Gueymard-Lauters. Ghiillaume Tell was given last week. Meanwhile, the sisters Marchisio have arrived in Paris, and the rehearsals of SemSramis have commenced. There is some talk of Mdlle. Marie Sax, of the Th6atre-Lyrique, being engaged here. The Chateau Trompette, of M. Gavaert, that had been put back at the Opera-Comique in its rehearsals by the serious [illness of M. Couderc, is now rehearsing, with Mocker in Couderc's part. The Roman d'Mvire is being played. The Belle Chocolatiere, in one act, by M. Paul Dupuch, is also in rehearsal, and there is also some talk of the Petit Chaperon Jiouffe, of Boieldieu, being given ere Madame Faure-Lefe"vre leaves. Mdlle. Mannion, of the Theatre-Lyrique, has been engaged at this opera. The privilege of the Theatre-Lyrique, which was to have expired in a year, had recently been renewed by M. Carvalho till February, 1867. M. Rety will thus have nearly seven years of managerial career before him ; and more, in 1861, he will inaugurate the new Theatre-Lyrique, as the foundations of this building are already begun, and it is to be terminated by the 12th of next December. Madame Viardot's benefit will soon take place, and Tamberlik will probably sing at it. Madams Viardot is going to sing one act of Armide, and the sleep-walking scene in the Macbeth of Verdi, with Graziani. After Beethoven's Fidelio, the Reine Balkir, of Charles Gounod, will be given. The Gymnase has no cause to complain of the new piece I gave you the sketch of last week, Jeanne qui rit, et Jeanne qui pleure. At the Vaudeville a little one-act piece of M. Ponsard, and another by M. Charles Hugo, have been accepted; meanwhile, La Tentation, of M. O. Feuillet, goes on successfully. The Od6on has given a five-act drama by M. Charles de Conrcy, entitled, Daniel Lambert, rather hoavy and very French in style. The Gait6 (why this name to a theatre where such lugubrious pieces are performed ?), not to be outdone, has given a kind of Anne Eadcliffe melo-drama, turning on the rivalry of two brothers—the one, of course persecuted innocence, that triumphs in the end; the elder brother, the prosecutor, and the one who has the power, of course succumbing, dying in the end. Season the whole of the five acts with a liberal amount of battles, assassinations, poisons, antidotes, and some masked statues, that only appear when ono of the family of the Farnese (to which the two brothers belong) are to die, and a few other horrors, with a grand denouement in the end of the triumph of persecuted innocence, and you have the Avenluriers (M. Victor Scjour's five-act drama) before you. But
these terrible pieces seem at present almost an epidemic. The Porte St.-Martin has given another that out-Herods Herod, not so much in horrors as in improbabilities. And to go through the five acts of the Roi des lies, and the wonderful events MM. E. Rollin and E. Woestyn (for they are the joint authors) have heaped pele-mile one a-top of the other, would require something more wonderful than the thread of Ariadne to extricate from the labyrinth they are in. The ever-wonderful Mdlle. Dejazet, who decidedly does not intend to get old, has been playing in a little piece she played so well in long ago, The Marquu de Lauzun.
The concerts are still going on, though with less brilliancy, and there are fewer of them. A pianist that,as almost a child, the Conservatoire crowned at the same time as Jules Cohen, as first prizes of the Marmontel class, Wieniawski, has returned here after an absence of ten years. Like his brother, Joseph Wieniawski the violoncellist, he has acquired a good reputation in Germany. He now returns to Paris, and will give a concert in the Salle Herz, Thursday 26th. Mad. C. Remaury gavo a very good concert in the Salle Herz, with the assistance of M. Kruzer, M. and Mad. Lefebure-Wely, and Jules Lefort, who sang his song, "Chanson d'amour," very well.
Death has again been busy in the dramatic world: Amant, the comic actor of the Theatre du Palais Royal, has expired suddenly from inflammation of the lungs. A few days before he had been forming projects of retiring from the stage. Amant had been for thirty years on the stage, and was as much liked for his private character as for his talent. The widow of Talma, the Countess de Chalot, has also just expired.
A very interesting ceremony took place in the church of St. Eustache, last Thursday. It was the inauguration of the pictures done in this church; the Archbishop of Paris, the Prefect of the Seine, and the members of the municipal body of the town were present. The performance on the organ was remarkable, and Tamberlik sang in his best style a motet, "Domine Deus," of M. Bonetti. Meanwhile, the public works and improvements are going on as actively as ever, the click of hammer and the noise of the mason's saw resounds through; and these horrid March winds, that are not yet over, throw clouds of brick and mortar dust into one's eyes. The ball at the Duchess d'Albe's, to be given on the 17th (yesterday), is put off till the 24th, on political motives. Two cousins of the Empress were taken with Ortega, in the last hneute in Spain, and of course, till their fate was known, no ball could have much charm for a relation. However, they have been, or are to be, pardoned. The gorgeous costume talked of, and that has been exciting so much talk, is going to be changed. And the Diana that was to have been will be invested in a domino. One of the quadrilles is to be composed of the elements: M. de Morny and the Princess Metternich will represent air—then there will be earth, air, fire and water.
The great question as to the building a new opera-house for the French operas is at length quite decided. The building will be erected at the beginning of the Bue de Rouen and a street that is to run between the Boulevards des Capucins and the Chaussee d'Antin. The direction of the works is confided to M. Ronault de Fleury. The general plan was deposited the 15th of this month, at the Mairie of the Ninth Arrondissement, in the Bue Drouot, and where for twenty days all observations of the public relative to the plan of the building will be received. As it is an undertaking that will probably cost twenty millions of francs, the pros and cons of the site chosen cannot be too attentively studied. Meanwhile, in what will be some months hence the old Grand-Op6ra house, all goes on actively. Mad. Gueymard, who has recovered from her late indisposition, is gaining fresh laurels in Pierre de Medecis. The Sisters Marchisio are already studying their parts in SimiramU; the part of Assur is definitively given to Obin: indeed it is probable that the singers will be ready long ere the scenery is. The latter is on a scale of unwonted magnificence, and Ancient Babylon is to be resuscitated in all her splendour in this modern Babylon. We can thus judge, which is the most preferable—I should say the ^ latter. Decidedly; operas written by princes are windfalls to a theatre. The illustrious composer of Pierre de Mldecis has presented M. Dietrich, the leader of the orchestra, with a magnificent platina chain ; to M. Vaudrot, leader of the singing, a diamond ring; and to M. "Victor Massfi, director of the choruses, ^diamond sleeve buttons. Such brilliant tokens of gratitude are not to be disdained, though often a few words of heartfelt acknowledgment possess greater weight and more real value. Amongst such, we must cite the letter of Mad. Girard, the widow of the late chef-d'orche3tre, at this house, to the artists of the Conservatoire, thanking them for the concert they gave for her benefit, and in memory of the old chief. In a short time the Italian Opera will be deserted, and the foreign nightingales, that have so often charmed us there, will have taken wing^ Last week, Tamberlik appeared in the part of Saliuto, in Donizetti's opera of the same name; Mesdames Penco and Merly filling the other characters. It was a grand "succds " for Tamberlik, who, with Mad. Penco, was recalled several times. Last Friday, Mad. Viardot's benefit took place at the Th6atreLyrique. Mad. Viardot sang the duo and sleep-walking scene of Verdi's Macbeth with Graziani, the third act of Gluck's Armide, and an air of Sonnambula. It were needless to add how brilliant was the success of her benefit, the many recalls, or the frantic applause—due, not only to her great talents, but also to the courage with which she has fought against the invasion of common-place and second-rate music on the stage. Who, after her fine creation of Orpheus, or her acting and singing in Armide, could tolerate the evanescent trash with which we are overwhelmed.
The concerts are still going on. Last week Duprez gave a concert, in which an opera entitled Jeanne a"Arc, the music by himself, the words by M. Edouard Duprez, was given. It was in three acts, with choruses, orchestra, decorations, &c. Mdlles. Marie Bennet, Battu, and Monrose, and M. Lefranc, Bang the chief parts; the whole evening went off very successfully. The Association of the Musical Artists of France are preparing a solemnity of a new kind, to begin at the end of this month. It consists—not of a concert, but of a series of concerts, to be perpetuated from year to year. M. Beaulieu, of Nlvet, is to be at the head of this. By his wish the concerts are to consist of the vocal music of the great masters, not usually performed in public, because it is not thought attractive enough. The music will be drawn from all schools, styles, and kinds, and the execution will be as fine as is humanly possible.
The weather here has been atrocious—snow, hail, wind, and rain. But so it is, apparently, all over the world. In Algeria snow has been falling, followed next day by siroccos. In Marseilles the same thing. But bad weather here never hinders gaiety; and as the time to leave Paris approaches, the fever grows fast and furious. Suppers, quite in the English style, are the fashion now. The other night a ball was given at the Marquis d'Aligre's, and dancing was prolonged all night: two suppers took place, and the guests departed at eight o'clock in the morning. That beats England. The grand ball, that has been as much talked of as a state affair, has come off, and nothing now remains but the brilliant recollection. The Empress did not wear her much-talked-of costume of Diana, but was in a domino. The great affair of the evening was the quadrille of the "Elements," composed of sixteen of the greatest ladies of the court and court society, with a beautiful Polish lady as the goddess of the Earth. But what fairy pen can describe the scarlet, and gold, and diamonds of fire; the ethereal blue of air (in which element Madame de Morny nppeared) the pale translucent green and silver of water— the fruits and flowers of earth, whose fair representatives, more wonderful than Atlas, bore the globe on their heads. They performed a fancy quadrille, with, of course, the grace and charm only great ladies can. It is to be hoped such balls are not, in the interests of the Opera, to be given often, as the beau monde would quite desert that temple to gaze on the drawing-room performances of their fairer Drethren. Imagine, however, all that is fairy-like, all that taste could devise or money procure, in the decorations of the room, the wondrous costumes of all nations and ages, animated butterflies, Spanish flics, &c, and you will have a faint view of the fancy ball. They say there is
no romance left in France; but the little anecdote I now giv e you would contradict the saying: A very charming young widow, and a lady of high family, was walking some short time since towards home, when she heard a voice call two or three times, " Madame! Madame!" She turned round, thinking she had perhaps dropped something, when she found her accostcr was a handsome and elegantly dressed young man, She was turning away, when he said, "For pity's sake, listen to me: I am dying of hunger." The lady gazed in astonishment at him. "It is not possible," she said, "dressed as you are." "It is all I have left," said he; "everything else I have sold." The lady reflected a moment, and then said, "There is my father's address; I am going home now, you can call in an hour." She went home, related the tale to her father, who at first thought she had been imposed on, but the entrance of the young man himself changed his ideas. He related his history. His father had been a minister under Louis Philippe, and left him a good fortune, which he had run through, and he was now in the state of extreme poverty he had described. The old gentleman asked him to dinner, went the next day and ascertained the truth of the history, asked him to his house two or three days running, got him a good appointment, and also got so attached to him, that he would no longer do without him. The lady's little boy, and the lady herself, shared the sentiment. The gentleman, it were needless to add, became deeply attached by gratitude and admiration, and, being of a good family, the dinoukment is easily told—they have just been married.
THE illness of M. Jullion having, with futal rapidity, terminated in death, it ha boon roaolvedihat the donations to the JULLIEN FUNDshall beapplicdin th manner which would have been most in consonance with tho wishes of the deceastU had it been permitted him to express them, viz., to the relief of his widow raid family, who, by his loss, are left totally unprovided for.
Committee lor tho distribution of the Jnllion Fund. Mr. John Mitchell; Mr. W. R Sams; Mr. Thomas Chappell; Mr. W. Duncau Davison; Mr. Robert K. Bowlcy ; an 1 Mr. Jules Benedict.
Honorary Treasurers. Mr. John Mitohcll, 33, Old Bond-street; Mr. Thomas Chappell, 50, New Bondstreet; and Mr. W. It. Sams, 1, St. James's-street.
Mossrs. Coutts and Co., Strand ; Hey wood, Kennards, and Co., Lombard-street;
; who, as well as tho Honorary
London and County Bank, Hunover-squHro; who, a Treasurers, have kindly consented to receive subscriptio:
2 10 O
Proprietors of Punch .. 5 5
Lady B. Lytton .. 2 0
Countess Carollno Bellow .. 11
Dr. Bossot Hawkins.. .. 11 2nd Collection, Coffee Room
Friends, Manchester .. 12
Henry Fentum, Esq. .. 10
Dr. Roberts 10
V. B 0 10
T. W, 11 0 10
H, S. Flinn, E-o 0 5
8undry small subscriptions:—
„ Mr. Austin .. ,, 0 17
,, Mr. nammond .. .. 12
,, Mr. Duncan Davison .. 0 4
,, Messrs. Cramer aud Co... 0 5
,, Sunday Times Offices .. 0 2
„ Mcssrs.Keitli&Co„perJ.N. 1 8
,, Messrs. Keith & Co. 0 12
,, Messrs. Bailey, Brothers 1 2
„ Mr. Mitchell .. .. 0 1
,, Deposit Baiik,Lcicestcr-Bq. 0 7
„ Parkins and Gotto .. 0 7
„ Messrs. Boosoy Sc 8ons .. 0 3
Mrs. J ohu Hill .. .. 5 0
A Washington Friond .. 2 2
Hall, Essex .. .. 11
Thomas Fairbalrn, Esq. .. 11
C. R. N 10
Lea Richardson. Esq.
Ditto, A. Hyam. Esq. ..
Deposit Bank .. .. 2 12 0
Tho return of country subscriptions has not yet been received, but will bo shortly advertised.
srs. Boosoy and Sons through Mr. C. Bmith 1 11 O
ONE SHILLING SUBSCRIPTION. Books to receive names ore now placed at Mr. Hammond's (late JulUen's), 214, Regent-street; Messrs. Cramer's, 201, Regent-street; Messrs. Bally Brothers, Corn hill; Messrs. Parkins and Gotto's, 24, Oxford-street; Mr. Pask's, LowtherarcaJc; Messrs. Keith, Prowso, & Co's., 48, Chcspside; Mr. Bignell's, Argyll Rooms; Deposit Bank, Leicester-square ; Sunday Times Office ; Messrs. Boosoy & Sons, Holies-street; Mr. Austin, St. James's Hall; Duncan Davison and Co., 244, Regent-street; and at the principal music shops throughout the country.
HER MAJESTY'S T H E A T R E.—This evening (Saturday), first appearance of Mdllo. Marie Brunotti in RIGOLETTO; also the eminent danseuso, Malle. Clavello. On Tuesday noxtwill be performed for the first time, between the acts of the opera, a new and original ballet, in three tableaux, by Signor Borri, and produced under his porsonal superintendence, entitled SCINTILLA. Principal characters by Mdlle. Pocchini, Mdllo. Moncelot, Mdlle. Morlacchi, Mdllo. Diolctti, M. Georgo, and M. Duraud. On Thursday next, SBMIRAMIDE. Arsacc, Madame Albonifhor first appearance this season); Aasur, Signor Vialetti; Idreno, Signor Belart; Oroe, Signor Vialotti; and Serolramide, Mdlle. Tkiens (her first appearance in that character). Conductor—Signor ArditL Box-office open daily from 10 to 6.
HER MAJESTY'S THE AT RE—First Night of RIGOLETTO. First appcaranco of Mdlle: Mario Brunettl. This Evening. Saturday, RIGOLETTO. II Duca, Signor Monrjini; Rigoletto, Signor Ronconi (his first appearance this season); Sparafudle, Signor Vialetti; Marullo, Signor Soldi; Bona. Signor Mercuriali; Uaddclena, Madame Lemaire; and Gilda, Madllo. Maria Brunetti (hor first appearance in this country). Conductor, Signor ArditL Grand Pas do Deux by Madlle. Pocchini and M. Duraud. Tho opera will commence at 8 o'clock. Pit tickets, 8s. Cd.; gallery stalls, 5s.; gallery, 3s.
ROYAL ITALIAN OPERA, COVENT GARDEN.— Second Night of FRA DIAVOLO. On Tuesday next, May 15, for tho second time this season, Aubcr's Comic Opera
Principal characters by Madame Miolan-Carvalho, Mdlle. Corbari, Siguori Gardoni, Neri-Baraldi, Polonini, Tagllafico, Zolger, and Ronconi, EXTRA NIGHT—Noxt Thursday. On Thursday next, Kay 17, for the second time this season, Mozart's opera DON GIOVANNI.
Principal characters by Madame Grisi. Mdlle. Csillag, Madamo Pcnco (her second appcarauoe this season), Signori Gardoni, Ronconi, Tagllafico, Poloninl, &ad Mario.
First Night of LA GAZZA LADRA. First appearance of Mdllo. Dldlee.
On Saturday next, May 19, will be performed, for the first time this sea Rossini's Opera
LA GAZZA LADRA.
Ninetta, Madamo Penco (hor first,appcaranco in that character); Lucia, Madamo Tagllafico; Pippo. Mdllo. Didice (her first appearanco this season); Podesta, Sisrnor Ronconi; Fernando, M. Faure (his first appearanco in that character); Fiibrizio, Signor Tagllafico; Isacco, Signor Lucches!; Gcorgio, Siguor Poloniui; Ajitonla, Signor Rossi; and Gianncto, Signor Gardoni.
The Opera commences at half-past 8. Pit tickets, 7s. ; amphitheatre stalls, 7s. axxd 5s. ; amphitheatre, 2s. fid.
A GRAND MORNING CONCERT will take place in tho New Floral Hall, on Wednesday, May 30, commencing at 2 o'clock. Full particulars will be duly announced.
The Musical World may be obtained direct from the Office, 28, Holies-street, by qjiarterly subscription of Jive shillings, payable in advance; or by order of any Neicsvendor. Advertisements are received until Three o'clock on Friday Afternoon, and must be paid for when delivered. Terms :—
Three lines (about thirty words) 2s. 6d.
Every additional line (ten words) . ... Os. 6d. Errata.—In tho review of "La Prustienne," by Mr. Raikes, (page 279) the third and fourth musical illustrations on tho second column should change places. Page 280—in the fourth illustration on tho second column— naturals should be added to tho B's in the bass. In the notice of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, for "Mrs. Cunningham," read "Mr. B. Cunningham." We may take this occasion of requesting our correspondents to aim at n little more clearness —not so much in their style as in their manuscript.
LONDON, SATURDAY, Mat 12th, 1860.
The cantata of Christmas (produced for the first time at the last concert of the Musical Society of London*), will undoubtedly add to the high reputation already enjoyed by its composer, whose May-Day (originally produced at the
* Wednesday, May 9th.
Bradford Festival of 1856) created so lively an impression at one of the performances of the Musical Society of London, last year. That May-Day was a work of remarkable ability was universally admitted; but that Christmas has still greater merit is, we think, unquestionable. On the whole, it may be unhesitatingly stated, that no English musician, from the time of Purcell to the present epoch, has written anything in its way more genuine and masterly. With the poem, Mr. Macfarren has been quite as fortunate as in the instance of the Bradford cantata. The subject may be less essentially dramatic, but it has been treated by Mr. Oxenford so ingeniously that, in the absence of any bond fide story, we have a stirring dramatic scene, every incident of which is more or less interesting. The cantata opens with an antiphonal chorus, in which the two choirs alternately celebrate the dark and the bright side of winter. The grumblers begin:—
2nd Choir.—" The trees lift up their branches bare
Against the sky:
For spring's return they seem to cry,
Whereupon the advocates of the frosty period retort:—
1st Choir.—" Old Winter's hand is always free
He scatters diamonds round,
They glisten on the ground.
At the conclusion of this Penillion-like contest, the opponent minstrels chime together—in song, at least, if not in sentiment:—
2nd Choir.—" Come in, and closely shut the door
The music expresses with great felicity the contending feelings suggested by the words—the strains allotted to the proselytes of winter being as energetic and jovial as those in which its detractors give vent to their antipathy are lugubrious. This fine choral introduction is succeeded by a recitative and romance for soprano, "Welcome blest season" —an apostrophe to Christmas, the general tone and purport of which may be gathered from the opening lines of the second division:—
"Christmas comes; and friends that long have parted
The soft and soothing character of this piece is in thorough keeping, and rarely have the endearing associations connected with the subject been wedded to more graceful melody. The romance gives way to the famous old English "carol," first given in unison by the chorus; then with harmony, on which two sections of the choir are engaged, while tho other two sing the tune; and lastly, in combination with a new subject, in a different measure, allotted to the orchestra, the theme of the " carol" being sustained by the entire choir as a plain song. The effect of all this is as fresh and vigorous as the contrivance is masterly. The next division consists of a " Christmas tale"—for contralto solo, with chorus—
"A bleak and kindless morning had broke on AlthenaY, Where, shunning Danish foemen, tho good King Alfred lay." This is built upon the story of King Alfred, on the eve of a victory over the Danes, relinquishing his last loaf of bread in favour of a mendicant pilgrim—and is so admirably treated in the poem, that had wo space we should be tempted to cite it in extenso. We must be content, however, to add tLat the music is worthy of the poetry, and that in the introductory recitatives the imitation of the old English style of melody—which, by the way, is a prevalent and characteristic feature of the whole cantata—is here most signally successful. The burden, at the termination of each verse,— "The heavenly King who reigns on high Bless him who hears the poor man'a cry,"
first delivered by the solo voice, and then echoed, in full harmony, by the ohorus—has something analogous to the response of the people in Mendelssohn's Elijah (Part I.), when the prophet petitions for rain, the serene loveliness of which, however, it modestly emulates, without in the slightest degree being open to the charge of plagiarism. An exquisite little duet for women's voices—" Little children, all rejoice"— agreeably contrasts with the foregoing. The words remind us that to manhood the enjoyment of to-day may be checkered with anxious thoughts for the morrow, while, to childhood, the happiness of the moment is all in all, tempered by no sad experience, weakened by no Conflicting doubt. The contrast is well presented in the last four lines :— "There is not a joy so true,
But we dread its change to sorrow;
Ah, it is not so with you,
Having days without a morrow."
Nothing can be more unaffected and spontaneous than the music to which Mr. Macfarren has wedded this duet. The finale—in chorus throughout—represents a festive celebration of the Christmas day's amusements, the various incidents that makes up the sum of its substantial cheer and innocent sports being successively portrayed in brief and appropriate terms. The mistletoe, with its envied privileges, is, of course, not overlooked. Here the chorus again assumes the antiphonal form, the first choir giving a (useless) warning :— "Nay, be cautious, gentle maid,
As you pass that hanging bough
With the berries white arrayed;
For there's one has made a Tow
That those lips he will invade;
And he'll keep it, we're afraid."
To which tho second choir emphatically retorts by repudiating the idea of mistletoe-law ever being abolished. Perish the thought! The wassail-bowl, blind-man's buff, snap-dragon, &c, ad infinitum, are all remembered; and the subjoined "general ohorus" brings this merry cantata to an end :— "Varied sports the evening closo,
Dancers form in busy rows;
Hoodwink'd lovers roam about,
Hope to And the right one out,
Round yon flickering flame of blue
Urohins sit—an anxious crew j
Dainties rioh the bold invite,
Welcome all, welcome all,
'Tis merry now in the vaulted hall.
The mistletoe is over head,
The holly flaunts its berries red,
The wassail-bowl goes gaily round,
Our mirth awakes the echoes round,
All eyes are bright, all hearts are gay,
Thus ends our Christmas day." In setting this concluding scene, Mi-, Macfarren has pro
duced a most effective and exhilarating climax to a composition that does him equal credit in an artistic and a national sense; the thoroughly English tone .which he has maintained from first to last—while only interpolating one existing melody (the "carol")—being no less worthy of admiration than its abstract musical beauties, or the ingenious contrivance and successful treatment for which it is everywhere remarkable. A question might be legitimately raised as to whether, when—the subject-matter being national —the aim of a composer is to preserve a strictly national feeling, the point of view should be, invariably and as a sine qud nan, taken from the English melody of between two and three centuries ago? No one will deny that the Italians, French, and Germans, have a national style of music at the present time; and yet Rossini, Auber, and Weber—who may fairly be accepted as types of their respective nationalities—have little or nothing in common with their harmonious ancestors of ages back. Christmas is as appropriate to the nineteenth as to the sixteenth century; and Mr. Oxenford might with quite as much justice have parodied the vernacular of Spenser and Jonson as Mr. Macfarren the melody that prevailed in the time of Elizabeth, or during that which succeeded the Restoration. We are bound to add that in Christmas this imitation of the cider melody is not slavishly done, and that several numbers—instance the romance (for soprano), the song about King Alfred (for contralto), and the charming duct for women's voices— while quite as English as the rest, are the unquestionable inspirations of an Englishman, by the side of whom even Sir Roger de Coverly would figure as an ancient. But in his choruses, Mr. Macfarren seems to have considered it indispensable to seek his tune at the same well as his forefathers. Were we not convinced that this gentleman is one of tho fow capable of writing music, neither Italian, French, nor German, nor even a mixture of the three, but purely English, and at the same time English of the period in which we live, we should have refrained from these remarks, and indeed from any critical objection, satisfied with awarding well-earned praise to a composition of distinguished merit and originality.
The performance on the whole was remarkable—considering that the work had only the benefit of a single rehearsal (a fact, by the way, of which the Musical Society of London, while professing so much, has no reason to brag). The principal singers—Madames Lemmens Sherrington and Sainton — were all the composer could possibly have desired, both in their solos and in their duet. The band, too, under Mr. Alfred Mellon, as usual, did wonders; but the chorus was by no means as efficient as might have been wished on such an occasion as the first public trial of a new and important work by an English composer. The audience, however, thoroughly delighted with the music, were not merely indulgent but enthusiastic in their applause. There is, indeed, every reason to believe that this performance will prove the forerunner of others, and that Christmas is destined to add one more to the brief catalogue of lasting musical works which our national repertory can beast.
It was exactly a quarter past ten by the clock of the Edinburgh Castle, when in walked Panurge, with a thick book under his arm, looking so wondrously important, that even Pantagruel involuntarily touched his hat at his approach, and Epistemon bowed his head with reverence. A. s for John the Waiter, he executed an Oriental salam.
"I am going," said Panurge, "to write a comedy."
"Oh, is that all," said Pantagrucl, cocking his hat on one side, and looking as insolent as possible, to compensate for his involuntary act of humility, while Epistemon took a pinch of snuff, and John the Waiter perked up his head, as if ho thought himself a great deal better than his company.
"And mark," proceeded Panurge, not a whit daunted, "my comedy shall be original—ay, British original,—and it slial 1 have a title such as no one hath ever devised. Yes, my comedy shall be called BorouglirEnglish; or, last come first served."
"Truly," said Pantagruel, restoring his hat to its normal position, "thy title is recondite and conceited."
"I like the humour of it much," observed Epistemon* while John the Waiter took up an empty tumbler, and, slowly cleansing it, listened to Panurgo with almost idolatrous attention.
'•Look ye, how I fashion my fable," continued Panurge, I have a designing Yorkshire mother."
"Hast thou, indeed ]" said Epistemon.
"I mean I introduce such a personage in the play," said Pannrge. "Now this designing Yorkshire mother contriveth that her daughter, Callirhoe, shall be engaged to the el«kst son of a wealthy man of Kent, deceased before the commencement of the fable."
"Then she hath her way," observed Epistemon, "and, snapping her wicked fingers to tho multitude, she may say :—
''Populus me sibilat; nt milii plaudo, Ipja domi; siinul ao nummos contempla in area,'
or she may place her thumb on her nose and extend her little finger, a form of mockery that, as perhaps than knowest, correspondeth to the antique indignities enumerated by Persius, when he saith:—
'O Jano! a tergo quern nulla eiconia pinsif,
"Ay, ay," cried Panurge, "but this vile woman of Mnrcia, whom I pelt with tho whole first satire of Horace, having first reduced the same into peas of wit, to be shot through tho shooter of intellect,—this base Yorkshire mother shall find the truth of that sound maxim of Publius Syrus (the pet author, as thou knowest, of tho Entr'Acte)— 'Cito improborum loeta ad pernicicm oadunt.'"
"Which," remarked Pantagruel, with much affability, " is thus Hellenized by Joseph Scaliger:—
'us els Kaxby iriirrovirtu al itaKuy ri^ai."
"For mark you," resumed Panurge, "when she hath irrevocably hound her daughter to the man of Kent, she shall discover that the lands of the aforesaid man are subject to the ancient law of gavelkind, and that therefore he is compelled to divide his estate with his thirteen brothers."
"Gavelkind," murmured John the Waiter to himself, with intense respect, while a conveyancer's clerk, who had been devouring a chop with much vulgar noise, moved his jaws quietly, that he might tho better attend to the discourse of Panurge.
"Her second daughter," continued Panurge, his cheeks swelling, and his eyes brightening with infinite pleasure, '• she marrieth to the eldest son of another great family, which owneth half a county, and when the wedding is over she shall discover that the estates are all held by the tenure called ' Borough-English,' by virtue whereof they descend to the youngest son, to the exclusion of his seniors. Yea, and
she shall be further mortified by the marriage of the younger son, whom she hath missed, with an humble girl, of whom she hath refused to purchase a ha'porth of lucifers."
"Thou dost grandly indicate the solemn tricks of the Goddess Fortune," remarked Epistemon, "whom thou reverently olothest with a judicial wig. This amalgamation of destiny with Coke upon Littleton is new."
"Panurge," said Pantagruel, "thy work is pregnant with sound morality, I respect thee as I never respected thee before. If thou studiest hard—if thou plungest deep into the comedies of Aristophanes, Plautus, and Terentius, feeding thy fancy with fragments of Menander, thou mayest in course of years write a play like the Goose with the Golden Eggs."
"Nay, nay," said Panurgo, "I attempt not such sublimities. But I have not yet done. The designing mother marrieth her third daughter to the only son of a man who M possessed of two-thirds of a county, and whose estate is entailed."
"Egad 1" cried Pantagruel, "thou hast well guarded thy astute Murcian against further freaks of fortune. She may burn Littleton with a fire made of his own coke. Ha! ha I blind goddess, what has become of thy Gavelkind and thy Borough-English now?"
"Yet," said Epistemon, "if the Yorkshire-woman triumpheth thy moral will bo bad, and thou wilt have ill served the cause of virtue."
But she will not triumph!" shouted Pnmtrge, while John, the waiter, rubbed his hands in a furor of expectation. "No, the entailed estate is limited to the issue of the father by his first marriage, which produced no increase to tho population. The son is the result of a second marriage, and therefore will not touch a square foot of ground—beyond so much as is required for his burial—the father being what the jurists call a tenant-in-tail, after possibility of issue extinct, which is virtually the same thing as a tenant for life."
At this announcement Pantagrucl and Epistemon, rising from their seats, gave a deafening cheer, in which they were joined by John the Waiter and the conveyancer's clerk, and after which, they (with the exception of John the Waiter), sat down.
"All these three vials of black-letter wrath," proceeded Panurge, "I pour at once on the head of the Yorkshire mother in the third act; but that the audience may not be too violently shocked and startled by the simultaneous explosion of Gavelkind, Borough-English, and possibility-of-issueextinot, I break the fall, as it were, by the distribution of scraps of legal learning over the entire play. In every act a barrister shall come on, and read apposite portions from the second volume of Blackstone, winking, meanwhile, at the audience, and pointing to the crafty female."
"I think," said Pantagruel, reflectively, "that on the appearance of that banister I shall retire for a while from tho theatre, and take beer."
"The skeleton of the play is marvellous," said Epistemon. "I could say it is an exceedingly well-boiled skeleton; it is so amazingly dry. But with what flesh dost thou purpose to clothe it 1"
"Here is flesh enough," exclaimed Panurge, opening the big book he had carried under his arm—"here is flesh enough to stock Leadenhall-market. This book coiitaiiieth a vast treasury of phrases, which apparently combine the pungency of the jest with the virtue of tho moral precept, and yet convey no meaning whatever. Thus do I take the shape